A New World

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Earlier this week we took a look at the latest standings in the race for Tour Survival with the likes of Ken Doherty, Michael White and Martin Gould among those currently in danger of dropping off the professional circuit.

Another factor that will be of relevance to those in the mix is that this year’s Betfred World Championship qualifiers in Sheffield will be played under a new format, with the tournament returning to a more tiered structure than we have seen in recent seasons.

Below we explain the key differences and what this will mean for tour players depending on their current ranking position…

The Previous System (2015-2019)

As has traditionally been the case, the world’s top 16 players ranked players were seeded through to the venue stages at the iconic Crucible Theatre, to be joined by 16 qualifiers.

Unlike during the preceding years however, these qualifiers were to emerge from a field of 128 players made up of 112 professionals and 16 players selected by the WPBSA in recognition of their amateur achievements and grassroots development.

Each of these players were required to win three matches to qualify for the Crucible.

The New System (2020-)

At last year’s World Championship it was announced by WST Chairman Barry Hearn that there would be a significant change to the structure of the tournament which will effectively see the competition revert to a tiered format for 2020.

Under the format, some players will now need to win up to four matches to qualify, with others needing just two victories to reach the final 32…

Round 1

  • 64 players (81-128 ranked + 16 WPBSA amateur players)
  • No prize money for losing players

Round 2

  • 64 players (49-80 ranked v Round 1 winners)
  • Losing players earn £5,000 (no ranking points for seeded losers)

Round 3

  • 64 players (17-48 ranked v Round 2 winners)
  • Losing players earn £10,000 (no ranking points for seeded losers)

Round 4

  • 32 players (Round 3 winners to play each other)
  • Losing players earn £15,000
  • Crucible qualifiers earn £20,000

Current Battles

While previously it was important for players to be ranked as high as possible in order to ensure a better seeding for the qualifiers, this importance has been further increased under the new format as this will now dictate at which point certain players will enter the competition.

At the time of writing (15/02/2020), the state of play at key sections of the latest Race to the Crucible is as follows:

The Top 80 – Begin qualifying in Round 2

79. Nigel Bond – £39,250
80. Lee Walker – £36,000
81. Ian Burns – £33,000
82. Oliver Lines – £31,000

The Top 48 – Begin qualifying in Round 3

47. Mark King – £126,500
48. Anthony Hamilton – £113,750
49. Chris Wakelin – £111,975
50. Marco Fu – £111,250

The Top 16 – Qualify automatically for the Crucible

15. Barry Hawkins – £310,250
16. Ali Carter – £298,000
17. Joe Perry – £284,000
18. Gary Wilson – £258,100

In respect of the battle for Tour Survival, all players currently in the immediate fight to stay on tour are set to begin their Crucible assaults at the second round stage.

Notwithstanding that, there are players such as Lee Walker (80) and Oliver Lines (82) who currently require a deep run in Sheffield if they are to remain on the circuit and are currently set to begin in different rounds as they fall either side of the all-important top 80 cut-off.

Similarly, for those just outside of the top 48 they will be required to play an additional match in comparison to the 32 players immediately ranked above them, with Chris Wakelin (49) and Marco Fu (50) currently at the head of the chasing pack.

Further updates

There are currently five events still to be completed prior to the all-important cut-off point following this season’s Coral Tour Championship, with crucial ranking points up for grabs to determine the final seeding positions for Sheffield.

Further updates will be available right here at the home of the WPBSA, snooker’s world governing body.